California Driftnet Fishery: Only One in Eight Fish Caught are Swordfish


Turtle Island’s latest report: California Driftnet Fishery: The True Costs of a 20th Century Fishery in the 21st Century Overview by Doug Karpa, Peter Fugazzotto and Todd Steiner makes a compelling case for phasing out this deadly swordfish fishery that kills large numbers of whales, dolphins, sharks and non-target fish. The report exposes the facts about this fishery.

Only one in eight fish caught by this fishery are swordfish.

Driftnets have been called “curtains of death,” and California’s fishery seems to meet this definition. Setting out huge, mile-long nets out to float in the ocean off the coast of California, it indiscriminately catches whatever swims into the nets. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that this is not a very targeted method of fishing for one species of fish, and the new report clearly shows that it isn’t.

The fact is this fishery has killed:

  • and estimated 26,000 sharks in the last decade;
  • an estimated 16 sperm whales in the last decade;
  • an estimated 885 marine mammals have been
    killed in the past decade;
  • 22 critically endangered leatherback and loggerhead
    sea turtles; and
  • numerous other marine animals like bottlenose dolphins, the long-
    beaked common dolphins, the northern right whale dolphins, the Pacific white-sided dolphins, the Risso’s dolphins, the short-beaked common dolphins, the gray whales, the humpback whales, the minke whales, the sperm whales, the shortfin pilot whales, the California sea lions, and the northern elephant seals.

If these animals were washing up on our beaches and shores, we would be outraged. But because this fishery operates secretly off our coast, it is harder to see the impact.

Turtle Island’s new report details that impact and outlines how the fishery for swordfish is among the most wasteful fisheries in the world in terms of bycatch (unwanted animals caught and discarded). The just-released-report examines new data that shows the driftnet fishery is —> Read More